Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Friday transferred a PIL seeking a CBI probe into the allotment of land to the Latur-based trust run by Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to the Aurangabad bench.
"Since the land is based in Latur, and since all the transfer deeds were executed by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to the Vilasrao Deshmukh Foundation (VDF) in Latur, this bench of the high court does not have the jurisdiction," said the bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar.
The Latur land allotment issue has been raised by the same five agriculturists, who had challenged the allotment of land in suburban Mumbai to filmmaker Subhash Ghai`s Whistling Woods film institute. The court recently struck down that allotment.
In the present PIL (which was separated by the court from Whistling Woods issue), Rajendra Sontakke and four others have taken exception to the allotment of 2 lakh sq m of land by MIDC to the VDF for setting up educational institution.
The land was allotted when Deshmukh was the chief minister of Maharashtra. The PIL alleges that land was allotted at Deshmukh`s behest, for "illegal, mala fide and corrupt considerations".
At the last hearing, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the petitioners, had said that Bombay bench of the high court should hear the case, because both MIDC and CBI have offices in Mumbai.
But the court rejected this argument, saying that by this logic, every PIL against government decision would have to be heard in Mumbai, because it was where the the secretariat is.
However, the high court has stayed its order of transfer for 12 weeks, to enable the petitioners to challenge it before the Supreme Court.